Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith and I did it in style, lunch (nothing to write home about) and drinks in the Bobby Moore suite, seats on the halfway line. It was a great occasion and at half time, we imagined a bit of silverware was ours. Wasn’t to be. Poor Catts had an excellent game even if, as he stepped up for his penalty, I turned to the charming young Irishwoman next to me – the girlfriend of a member of our coaching staff – and said ‘that’s not a great idea’. It wasn’t.
Sixer also enjoyed his day out. We both recognised that Pompey’s second-half transformation made victory for them a deserved one. But congrats to St Joseph’s Catholic Academy from Hebburn on winning the EFL Girls’ Cup final, played before the Checkatrade game – they beat a team from Mangotsfield, Bristol 3–1 – and now on to greater things …
The trail of tears led all the way up the M1 and A1, up the East Coast Main Line and to all points South, East and West from that benighted stadium in a North London industrial estate.
Except there were no tears. There was pride in the way that the team had played in the first half, pride in the resilience they showed in coming back in the last minute of extra time and pride in the fact that a friendly invasion of London had gone off well.
John McCormick writes: Colin e-mailed to ask if I could update the phone message Rob Hutchison sent after the game and which he’d managed to put up via his mobile. It seems a long time since Malcolm and I spent a pleasant pre-Accrington lunchtime in Rob and Olivia’s company and it’s always good to hear from him. Here he is with his one-word ratings after a rather different game:
I was sweating in the last few minutes of extra time, thinking “the next goal will win it”. And then Portsmouth scored, after we had lost all of the shape and brio that marked our first half performance. But somehow we scored a second time to send the game to penalties. Which we lost.
Pete Sixsmith or one of the Salut contingent will file a report in due course. For now here’s his substitute’s (aka M Salut) post penalty seven word text:
You might be forgiven for having expected Pete Sixsmith to write solely about Sunderland’s trips to Wembley in this series. Then after reading his first post in the series and remembering where he’s from you might have anticipated another mention of Leeds at some point. But Pete is more than this, a true man of many parts. Not only Sunderland home and away, with a sprinkling of Rugby League when he can. Bishop Auckland, Shildon and a host of lower league clubs have been graced by his presence. Which is how he came to be tripping down Wembley Way once more:
We all know the Checkatrade, plus the international breaks and that match abandonment at Accrington Stanley, have left us with ground to make up on the other promotion contenders. A congested April (eight league games) makes a top-two place all the harder to secure. Here, Simon Carving puts the case for a bold selection choice for Sunday’s final …
Sunderland are delicately poised in fourth position in League One, five points behind second-placed Barnsley but, importantly, with two games in hand. Win those games (and a third if, as expected, Barnsley see off Coventry at home on Saturday to create an eight-point gap), and they will climb into the second automatic promotion place. Stumble and they will end up in the playoffs.
This is a special edition of Salut! Sunderland‘s ‘Who are You?’ series because Sunday will be a special day for two sets of fans supporting grand old clubs that have known better times but are both recovering from the horrors of recent seasons.
Our Pompey interviewee Steve Bone, from the Portsmouth Fans Network, freely admits he is going to Wembley because it’s the final and wouldn’t bother with any game earlier in the Checkatrade Trophy competition. That hardly makes him less passionate than the 80,000-odd others who will be there on Sunday. It’s a cup that matters when you reach the final and the EFL and Checkatrade are naturally chuffed at the idea of for once filling the national stadium …
John McCormick writes: I occasionally write about North-Western clubs and their tribulations on this website, but other than that I pay little heed to goings on in the football world outside the SoL. It came as something of a surprise to me when Swindon had their promotion rescinded and we went up instead. If you play through the second video clip – before and after the match highlights – you’ll realise that others knew something was amiss long before the game. So while I do feel for Swindon fans, I’m not going to say the club was harshly treated.
On the other hand, Pete Sixsmith, on an aeroplane somewhere over the Channel, definitely was:
Monsieur Salut writes: by far the best part of the Pompey awayday in December, not least because we lost, was meeting the Jarrow brothers Dean – twins Paul and Stephen, who never miss a game, their Portsmouth-based sibling John and John’s family – in an excellent pub before the game. Thanks to my pal and former colleague Kevin Maguire for the introduction.
There is a more conventional Portsmouth ‘Who are You?’ to come but I thought it would be interesting to hear from John and his wife, Rosie. They’ll be together but among the Pompey fans and both are going for a narrow SAFC victory …